This post summarizes two significant clinical interventions Gorilla Doctors performed in May and June. In both cases, the individual gorillas are still under regular monitoring but treatments had a significant impact in aiding recovery.

Intervention: Kashundwe, adult female in Katwe group, severe eye injury/infection

Location: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Gorilla Doctors: Fred Nizeyimana and Ricky Okello, Field Veterinarians, Uganda

Dates: May 11 – May 28, 2019

Kashundwe is a special case as she is the oldest female mountain gorilla in Katwe group and possibly in all of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. At 37 years old, she was among the first mountain gorillas to be habituated to humans in the 1990s.

May 11th – Park trackers reported to Gorilla Doctors that Kashundwe’s eye appeared swollen.

May 13th – A Monitoring Visit was conducted by Dr. Fred Nizeyimana, who observed there was reddening, swelling and a significant amount of purulent discharge from Kashundwe’s left eye as well as a small amount of discharge from her right eye.

May 15th – Dr. Fred returned to perform a partial intervention, treating Kashundwe with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications administered via dart.

May 19th – A second dose of medications were administered via dart.

May 22nd – A third dose of medications were administered via dart.

May 28th – Dr. Ricky administered a final dose of medication and observed Kashundwe showing drastic improvement in both eyes with reduced swelling, redness and discharge.

Kashundwe, post treatment, with eye significantly improved.

Throughout the monitoring visits and multiple partial interventions, Gorilla Doctors worked with an international team of experts including both veterinary ophthalmologists, human ophthalmologists and pathologists to consult on possible causes of symptoms and best options for treatment. Consensus was that Kashundwe likely experienced an initial trauma to the eye, for example a puncture from a stick or branch, which led to the infection. As a result of her injury and infection it is likely that she has reduced or lost vision in her left eye, and it remains quite cloudy in color and appearance.

Intervention: Silverback Maraya – severe injuries from fight with silverback Muyambi

Location: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Gorilla Doctor: Fred Nizeyimana, Field Veterinarian, Uganda

Dates: June 6 – 27, 2019

On June 6th, 20-year-old silverback Maraya of Mubare group was injured in a fight with younger silverback and former group member Muyambi, who had been trailing Mubare group for some time. As it turned out, arrival of park trackers stopped the fight, and they immediately reported Maraya’s severe wounds to Gorilla Doctors (images of the wounds are graphic so we are only showing photos of Maraya from before the injuries, with one exception).

Silverback Maraya before fight with silverback Muyambi.

June 8th – Dr. Fred conducts a full intervention, anesthetizing Maraya cleaning his already infected wounds, suturing a deep wound with exposed bone on his hand, and administering antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

June 12th – Dr. Fred administers a second dose of antibiotic and anti-inflammatories via dart. Initial post-treatment assessment found Maraya with slight use of his hands, minimal overall movement and flies around the wounds on his shoulder and back.

June 17th – Dr. Fred performs a third intervention, anesthetizing Maraya, cleaning out infected wounds, administering antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, multivitamins and IV fluids.

Maraya lays on his back post-fight.

June 27th – Dr. Fred conducts follow-up monitoring visit and observes Maraya using both hands, mobile and feeding. The wounds on his head, left hand and smaller wounds on his right hand were healed. The wound on the right hand with the exposed bone had healed but the bone remained exposed. The large wounds on his shoulder and back were no longer infected but were open, raw and healing slowly. Another monitoring visit will be conducted within a week.

A Note from the Executive Director, Dr. Kirsten Gilardi

Gorilla Doctors is fortunate to have a cadre of expert veterinarians around the world who are ready to help with consultations and guidance at a moment’s notice, and via any means of communication. In addition to Veterinary Medical Advisors Mike Cranfield (Gorilla Doctors’ Africa Director Emeritus), Jan Ramer and Dawn Zimmerman and our Veterinary Pathologist Linda Lowenstine, all of whom are consulted frequently via WhatsApp, email or video conferencing, our management of Kashundwe’s case benefitted greatly from the expert input of ophthalmolgists Dr. Joyce Murphy, DVM and Dr. Nick Iliff, MD.